Theoretical Grounds of Characteristics Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:25:56
2846 words
11 pages
printer Print
essay essay

Category: Character

Type of paper: Essay

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Hey! We can write a custom essay for you.

All possible types of assignments. Written by academics


Language is an integral part of social human being and indispensable condition of existing of modern society. The history of its development maybe began with the foundation of linguistics; after all, linguistics itself has only been established in its present form for a few decades. But people have been studying language since the invention of writing, and no doubt long before that too. As in many other subjects, the use and then the study of language for practical purposes preceded the reflective process of scholarly study. In ancient India, for example, the need to keep alive the correct pronunciation of ancient religious texts led to the investigation of articulator phonetics, while in ancient Greece the need for a technical and conceptual vocabulary to use in the logical analysis of propositions resulted in a system of parts of speech which was ultimately elaborated far beyond the immediate requirements of the philosophers who had first felt the need for such categories [12]. Afterwards language was the focus of researches among many scientists, psychologists and neurolinguists.

Language is not just a rare accumulation of its units phonemes, morphemes, lexemes and constructions. Its a difficult and multilevel engine which has its inner structure. As Slolntsev admits, language as a system is not just sum of sentences, but the complex of rules, that help to build a sentence, and great amount of sensful and meaningful units, that are used according this rules [5]. Ferdinand de Saussure called the language the system of sighns, that express ideas. All its parts are deeply connected. The term of language structure was first introduced by the linguistics from India, than by the scholars of Prague linguistic school. But this up-to-date term belongs to a renowned linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, who was the first who laid the groundwork of structural linguistic and semiology and devided the terms language and speech. Substantial additional contributions similar to this came from Louis Hjelmslev, ‰mile Benveniste and Roman Jakobson, which are characterized as being highly systematic [15].

Thus, the aim of our study is to characterize the functions of the English language and embrace its functions.

To achieve the aim it is necessary to complete the following tasks: 1. Consider a question about characteristics of English

2. Examine the relations between units in the English language 3. Observe the functions of the English language

The object of the term paper is the studying of the English language and highlighting the most significant features of its structure.

The subject of the term paper is characteristics of the English language and the functions of language.

Chapter 1. Theoretical grounds of characteristics of language and its functions. 1.1.Characteristics of the English language.

1.1.1.English as an analytical language.

There are two kinds of languages: synthetic and analytic ones. Synthetic languages, such as Czech or German, use a lot of inflection. In synthetic languages, word order is not very important, since the different forms of words carry the meaning. For example in Ukrainian you can have these two different sentences with basically the same word order but different meaning. English, however, needs to distinguish the meaning with word order: A dog is chasing a cat.

A cat is chasing a dog.

English is an analytic language. There is only very little inflection and word order is very important for understanding the meaning. Old English is frequently presented as a synthetic language, a language in which grammatical function of clause elements is primarily derived from inflections rather than from word order and prepositions, while Present Day English is said to be the opposite, and analytic language, A.C. Baugh writes that Modern English in an analytic, Old English a synthetic language. Similarly, Dan McIntyre writes that The main difference between Old English and Present Day English is that OE is a synthetic (or inflectional) language whereas PDE is an analytic (or isolating) language.[13, 16]

All languages, however, tend to move slowly from synthetic, to analytic. English started as a synthetic language with a lot of inflection. Slowly, it dropped the inflection and started using word order as a means of distinguishing the meaning.

1.1.2. Relation between units in the English langauge

Syntagmatic relations are immediate linear relations between units in a segmental sequence. The combination of two words or word-groups one of which is modified by the other forms a unit which is reffered to as a syntactic syntagma. There are four main types of notional syntagmas: predicative (the combination of a subject and a predicate), objective (-/- a verb and its object), attributive (a noun and attribute), adverbial (a modified notional word, such as a verb, adjective, or adverb, with its adverbial modifier). The other type of relations, opposed to syntagmatic and called paradigmatic, are such as exist between elements of the system outside the strings where they co-occur. Unlike syntagmatic relations, paradigmatic relations cannot be directly observed in utterances, that is why they are reffered to as relations in absentia.

Paradigmatic relations coexist with syntagmatic relations in such a way that some sort of syntagmatic connection is necessery for the realization of any paradigmatic series. This is especially evident in a classical grammatical paradigm which presents a productive series of forms each consisting of a syntagmatic connection of two elements: one common for the whole of the series, the other specific for every individual form in the series. A linguistic unit can enter into relations of two different kinds. It enters into paradigmatic relations with all the units that can also occur in the same environment. PR are relations based on the principles of similarity. They exist between the units that can substitute one another. For instance, in the word-group A PINT OF MILK the word PINT is in paradigmatic relations with the words bottle, cup, etc.

The article A can enter into PR with the units the, this, one, same, etc. According to different principles of similarity PR can be of three types: semantic, formal and functional. Semantic PR are based on the similarity of meaning: a book to read = a book for reading. He used to practice English every day He would practice English every day. Formal PR are based on the similarity of forms. Such relations exist between the members of a paradigm: man men; play played will play is playing. Functional PR are based on the similarity of function. They are established between the elements that can occur in the same position. For instance, noun determiners: a, the, this, his, Anns, some, each, etc. PR are associated with the sphere of language.

A linguistic unit enters into syntagmatic relations with other units of the same level it occurs with. SR exist at every language level. E.g. in the word-group A PINT OF MILK the word PINT contrasts SR with A, OF, MILK; within the word PINT P, I, N and T are in syntagmatic relations. SR are linear relations, that is why they are manifested in speech. They can be of three different types: coordinate, subordinate and predicative. Coordinate SR exist between the homogeneous linguistic units that are equal in rank, that is, they are the relations of independence: you and me; They were tired but happy. Subordinate SR are the relations of dependence when one linguistic unit depends on the other: teach + er morphological level; a smart student word-group level; predicative and subordinate clauses sentence level. Predicative SR are the relations of interdependence: primary and secondary predication. As mentioned above, SR may be observed in utterances, which is impossible when we deal with PR. Therefore, PR are identified with language while SR are identified with speech.

1.1.3. Structure of language

Structure of language is its composition of hierarchical correlation, where units of lower level are used for building units of higher level. Modern linguistics lays a special stress on the systemic character of language and all its constituent parts. It accentuates the idea that language is a system of signs (meaningful units) which are closely interconnected and interdependent. Units of immediate interdependencies (subclasses of words, various subtypes of syntactic construction) form different microsystems within the framework of the global macrosystem of the whole language [1, 3]. Each system is a structured set of elements related to one another by a common function.

4 components of language structure are divided:

¢ Phonetical
¢ Morphological
¢ Lexical
¢ Syntactical

Phonetics (the scientific study of speech production) embraces not only the constituents and patterns of sound-waves but also the means by which the sound-waves are generated within the human vocal tract. PHYSIOLOGICAL PHONETICS, which is sometimes distinguished from articulatory phonetics, is concerned specifically with the nervous and muscular mechanisms of speech. The term GENERAL PHONETICS refers to a set of principles and techniques for the description of speech that can be applied to any language; it should be distinguished from a more restricted type of phonetics concerned with those principles and techniques which are required for a phonetic statement of a specific language. Hence, for example, the phonetics of English will require some theoretical constructs which are not necessary for the phonetics of Swahili, and vice versa. In this article, the aim is to present the essential features of a general phonetic theory.


Morphology is the study of the ways in which words are formed and the functions of the parts that make up the whole of the word. A simple word consists of a single free morpheme: like slay, flea, long, or spirit. Complex words consist of either two bound morphemes (matricide, televise, exclude, cosmonaut), or a bound morpheme and a free morpheme (lioness, telephone, eraser, pyromania). Compound words consist of two free morphemes. Most languages, but especially agglutinating and inflexional ones, differentiate between the stem of the word, which carries the basic meaning, and various affixes or attachments that carry additional, often grammatical, meanings. There are several kinds of affixes: Suffixes are attached to the end of the stem;

Prefixes are attached to the front of the stem;
Infixes are put in the middle of the word;

Ablaut is a change in a vowel that carries extra meaning; Reduplication is a matter of doubling a syllable to do the same. Suffixes are the most common, and English uses them. For example, the past tense of most verbs is a matter of adding -ed to the stem; the present participle is made by adding -ing; the plural of a noun is made by adding -s.


Lexicology is basically understood as the study of lexis (vocabulary or stock of words of a language). Stock evokes the idea of a set of words which brings the idea of the lexicon. The vocabulary is understood as meaningful units. Lexicology is closely linked to morphology. In lexicology what matters is the meaningful side of the words. And in morphology what matters is the form of these units. The form and the meaning of a word may be related so they are closely linked. The Oxford English dictionary has about 300,000 entries, not including scientific and technical words. This makes English a language with the largest vocabulary. An educated English speaker, however, only uses about 30,000 words.


the syntax is the study of the principles and processes by which sentences are constructed in particular languages. The central assumption underpinning syntactic analysis in traditional grammar is that phrases and sentences are built up of a series of constituents (i.e. syntactic units), each of which belongs to a specific grammatical category and serves a specific grammatical function. Given this assumption, the task of the linguist analysing the syntactic structure of any given type of sentence is to identify each of the constituents in the sentence, and (for each constituent) to say what category it belongs to and what function it serves [6, 7].

Thus, we are to say that English language is popular analytical language that has two types of relation between units: syntagmatic and paradigmatic. It embraces such language components as lexical, morphological, phonetical and syntactical.

1.2.1 Functions of language

Using a language as a primary means of communicating our thoughts is so natural for many people that it is often difficult to realize what in fact are language functions. Some of the roles of language are so mundane that they are hardly ever noticed, others are very elevated, or even abstract. Due to their diversity the functions of language might be divided into two categories: micro functionswhich refer to specific individual uses, and macro functions which serve more overall aims [7, 1]


¢ Physiological function (releasing physical and nervous energy) Although it might be striking this use of language is fairly common. It is easily recognizable when devoted fans of sports are observed while watching their favourite discipline on TV. Such fans often shout instructions, express support, or disappointment and while as a means of communicating with sportsmen they are useless, such cheers are to release repressed energy. Similarly curse words are used to serve this purpose, as they rarely convey any meaning and are only to make the speaker feel better [10]. ¢ Phatic function (for sociability)

The use of such phrases as nice day today, or how do you do is characterized by lack of any informative content and is intended to link people and make the coexistence peaceful and pleasant. The phatic use of language is characteristic mainly of speech, however, in certain types of writing it can also be noticed, as in letters for example, where the beginning Dear Sir/Madam and endingYours faithfully also serve that purpose.

¢ Recording function

Recording function denotes using language to make a durable record of things that ought to be remembered. Owing to its omnipresence writing is probably the most significant function of language. There is evidence that the first writing system was developed in the Middle East as early as 4000 BC. At the beginning writing systems took forms of pictures representing the things they referred to, gradually developing into the alphabets in their present forms.

¢ Identifying function

Language is used also to identify the objects and events in the world we live in. Without this function language would be almost useless, as it is thanks to the names of things that we know what is talked about. Many primitive societies unable to write believe that names hold great power. Even in western culture names are thought to be immensely important: the Gods name ought not to be used in vain, before giving a name to a newborn child parents consider the choice deeply. We use names to classify different types of things, whether we call a car anautomobile, a lorry, a van or a truckmakes a big difference.

¢ Reasoning function (instrument of thought)

Before we say something we think and to do that we necessarily use language. In most cases it is extremely difficult to think about anything without any use of words. In fact is it also difficult not to think for a longer period of time as human brains work all the time processing information, thus providing us with concepts formulated by means of language.

¢ Communicating function

This function would probably be pointed at by most language users without major consideration. Indeed it is in all likelihood most commonly used language function by majority of speakers. Requesting, apologizing, informing, ordering as well as promising and refusing are all reasons for communicating our ideas [11].

¢ Pleasure functions

The fact that language often gives pleasure both to the speakers and listeners is not only supported by the frequent use of assonance, alliteration and onomatopoeia in poetry. Depending on the sounds of languages some are perceived as being mild as English for example, others crude as German. People also derive pleasure from unusual use of syntactic rules, as well as novelties of meanings juxtapositions and language games, which is often used by skilful writers.


¢ Ideational function

Ideational function refers to the conceptualizing process involved in our mental activities. Thanks to language we are able to understand what happens around us. ¢ Interpersonal function
Interpersonal function emphasizes that language is mainly a social phenomenon, but apart from enabling communication with other people it enables to project the speaker in the desired way and to represent the speaker.

¢ Poetic function

Here, the word poetic does not refer to the ability to write poetry, but the ability to manipulate language in a creative way. With the use of jokes and metaphors we can play with words and meanings simply for joy.

¢ Textual function

Textual competence refers to our ability to create long utterances or pieces of writing which are both cohesive and coherent. Unlike animals people, by use of certain linguistic devices, are able to produce long sentences and text, and not only simple phrases. The above mentioned functions are only one point of view on language. Most certainly there are many other functions that natural languages fulfill, yet depending on approach to this issue the number of functions and their names might vary. During the language studyings the linguists has presented micro and macro functions of the English language that plays a great role in our social and inner life each of them is responsible for each part of human being.

Warning! This essay is not original. Get 100% unique essay within 45 seconds!


We can write your paper just for 11.99$

i want to copy...

This essay has been submitted by a student and contain not unique content

People also read